Chasing Stick Fish: Part 2 (words and Images by Vicki Lear)

Now you have read the story, don’t miss the how to.

When talking amongst friends about catching Marlin they automatically thought brawn.  That’s where they are wrong! Don’t be mistaken though; you will need to bring your stamina, skills and brains.  Hooking the fish is only half the battle.

No gentleman’s hours for the keen.  Fresh bait means fish! So it is on the water in readiness for first light to collect your live bait.  Slimy Mackerel are the best baits but if they are unavailable a Yellowtail (Yakka) will do.

Rigging Your Live Bait

In my opinion when you are trolling live baits, a bridle rig is best.  You can either use a piece of looped dental floss or a rubber band, threaded through the nose cavity of the fish.  I found the problem in using rubber bands is they do stretch and can break after a while.   Loop the hook through until the desired length is reached.

Trolling Live Baits

It’s now time to throw your live bait over the side into the water.  At this point make sure the boat is in a slow idle forward and ensure you run it straight otherwise you will end up in tangles.  Slimies are renowned for swimming under the cover of the boat so the idle forward will help prevent this. You only want to be travelling walking pace with the live bait which would be between 2 to 3 knots otherwise you will either pull your hook out or kill the live bait.  If the live bait dies it will spin under the surface and cause you massive line twist and headache to boot! 

It is not just a matter of roaming anywhere around the ocean either.  Slow trolling live bait’s is most successful when trolled around bait schools and or where there is a reef or canyon that attracts fish.

It is also a theory that Marlin will cruise down the swell so where you can it is most effective to troll along the swells.  If you are for instance working a reef pinnacle the most productive trolling pattern would be in a figure eight pattern going with the current and not across it. The most important “Golden Rule” I can give is if you are working a bait school particularly if it is working on the surface, no matter what you do, do not drive through the middle of it.  Larger predatory fish are likely to be coming in for attack from the outsides, by driving through it you will put the fish down, disburse them and likely to spook anything that was near them.  Work the outsides of the school.

The Hook Up 

Finally you have the hook up, don’t stop the boat.  Either people will gun the boat and rip the bait right out of the fishes mouth before they have had a chance to eat it or they will stop the boat giving the line slack and chance of getting away.  Keep the boat going at a steady pace.  Usually a count to about 5 will ensure that the fish has taken the bait and eaten it before you strike the rod.  On other occasions if the fish starts jumping crazy you will have no other option to strike and hope for the best.

The Fight

Your rod and reel should be doing all the work for you.  Make sure your drag is set correctly your runners are oiled and if you need a harness clip it in and adjust it so you are comfortable.  If your harness is correct you should be able to take your arms of the rod and use your body to lever the rod, not your arms.  It is a skill to know when to pump and wind, when to let the fish run, if you need one to one ratio on your reel (if you have it). Don’t waste energy winding when you cannot gain.  The next skill comes to the driver.


A driver’s skill can cut the fight on a marlin in half.  It is about the angle of the line.  Fish can dog it out in the deep or hold out in the currents.  This is where the boat driver comes into play.  If the fish is dogging it out straight up and down then driving the boat forward will help change the angle and have a planing effect to bring the fish to the surface.  If it is riding the currents you can try different circles around the fish to get it to change its angle and improve your angle.  A boat driver can make or break a fish.


Preferred tackle for Marlin fishing would be 15kg – 24kg line on a Tiagra 50w and Tiagra T-Curve Rod or the newest craze/sensation is catching them on spin gear which is a Stella 20000SW teamed up with a Revolution Offshore 601SW. Trace line Jinki 250lb.  We like to run a Seamaster straight J hook in an 8/0.

Now you have ins and outs it is time to catch your very own.

Vicki Lear is a self confessed fish-a-holic and works as a real estate agent to support her habit. Far from being a “one trick pony” she excels at many diverse styles of fishing from land based game fishing to offshore gamefishing. As well, she kicks most guys butts at Bream and Bass fishing.

Read more of Vicki’s stories here

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s